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Hollow or solid legs

4021 Views 10 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  AandCstyle
I am going to make a set of matching coffee table and two end tables for my family room. I am basing the design off of a coffee table in Woodsmith magazine. The design calls for 2 1/8" square legs. The legs on the orginal design are laminated from 3/4" stock and an 1/8" veneer glued on one face to cover the laminations.

I was going to follow this method until I saw on TV a square post made with a lock miter bit. This resulted in a square piece with no visible laminations. So my question is whate are the advantages/disadvantages of a soild laminated leg and the advantages/disadvantages of a mitered hollow leg?
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It's easier to make the solid one. Just joint the faces and glue together. I have done the lock miter and it does appear to be solid. Takes a while to get that thing set up right so that everything is even. I don't see any difference in strength. You can get a bigger leg with less board feet.
Miter lock bits are expensive and, as Bill mentioned, finicky to get set up perfectly. Also, if you will be doing M&T construction, the effective depth of the mortise will only be the thickness of your stock, most likely 3/4", but that shouldn't be an issue for coffee/end tables. Keep the top of the tenon down an inch or so from the top end of the leg to ensure there is sufficient strength there.

I currently laminate for solid legs and cut my "veneer" thick, then use the jointer & planer to get the veneer to the appropriate thickness. This is easier for me, but either method is perfectly acceptable. FWIW
The jig in the video pretty much eliminates the lock miter set up frustrations.

Will you have enough material for the mortises if make the legs hollow using the lock miter? Are there going to be through mortises? Are you using 1/4 sawn white oak? If not then just get some 12/4 rift sawn for the legs.
The locking mortise was used extensively by L and JG Stickley so they could make legs that presented the flecking pattern of QSWO on all four sides. That is its biggest advantage over a solid leg. But you can do the exact same thing by putting a veneer on the laminated side like their brother Gustav Stickley did.
I did these candle stands the Amana locking mitre bit & their set up jig. Previously I did this table, only using the TS with the blade tipped to 45 degrees. I've always thought that the locking mitre bit was a really cool idea and while the jig and the bit were able to work as advertised, it's a really scary big hunk of spinning steel in the RT, and I realized I will need to build some fixtures to be able to use it for any box construction because of the way the wood goes into the bit for the vertical cut along the fence, but for longer pieces that can run along the fence it works as advertised.

Most valuable lesson I learned doing the candle stands was that you need to put the same profile onto the edges of the opposite sides of the box so that your clamping pressure is even and controlable, it was a real DOH moment, when I discovered that the clamps were pushing the entire column our of square. For the table with the 45 degrees bevels, I just used blue tape and light clamping in 2 planes to do the whole piece took about half the time and was $150 cheaper than buying the lock mitre bit & jig, that may never get used again.
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I agree Dan. I used my lock miter bit one time.
First I want to thank everyone for their replies. There are two reasons I am entertaining the idea of using mitered, hollow legs. The first is appearance. The appearance of a mitered leg would be superior to that of a laminated one. The second reason is that furniture grade hardwood is difficult to find and very expensive in west central Florida. At best I might get some 8/4 rough cut lumber, but that would not yield the required dimensions.

A point was brought up about the depth of the tenons. I checked the design, and one of the joints is 1/2" deep and the other is 1" deep. The first is not a problem, and the second shouldn't be an issue. If necessary, I can put a filler block at the top, bottom and where the 1" tenon is located.
Sounds like a plan.
"The appearance of a mitered leg would be superior to that of a laminated one."

To each his own, but I don't think this is a true statement. Take a look at the legs on this project and then explain how a mitered leg would look any better. As I mentioned, I have done legs both ways and laminated are easier for me and look every bit as good (the same) as mitered IMO. As James mentioned, Gustav Stickley used the laminated/veneered method and if it was good enough for him….....

Since quality stock is expensive in west central Florida, it would make more financial sense to make leg blanks out of inexpensive stock, e.g. poplar, and veneer all four sides. YMMV
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